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90 Ways To Survive being an Indie Game Developer & Entrepreneur

This past few months has been an adventure for me. This October I officially felt confident enough to launch our fundraising campaign One Million Heroes, a way to become a champion, nominate and give back to the world, but also a way to contribute to building a program as part of our Pay It Forward program. Our biggest challenge is marketing right now, to bring in 20,000 champions willing to nominate and sponsor their Heroes, champions who believe in our cause, their Heroes cause and that we have something to give them.

One of the biggest challenges I have faced is not having the funds to hire a team to help drive us towards success. Most of our Guardians of Life work more than one job and struggle to make ends meet. For me Zenratstudios is my one job, it is my full-time job, and it’s success and how far we get is dependent on my sole ability to creatively turn a lack of resources into resourceful ways of pivoting us to success. Life is all a game to me, it’s one big puzzle. Just like in any video game I’ve started with nothing. Just a few sticks and some stones. There’s a river here, and somehow I have to get across it. I run around doing side quests to level up my skills, so that I can learn what I need to learn to get across the river. All of that takes time. 90% of this entire year has been spent learning skills and building upon my mental resilience and knowledge. Things that I couldn’t afford to outsource in the beginning. Spending time learning as much as we can so we can automate and outsource has been a short-term investment for long-term gain.

Everything takes up time. Hiring people takes time, building websites take time, products take time to build, services take time to launch. There is not one feature of running a start-up that does not take time. The biggest part that takes time is motivating to care about your cause as much as you do it, lest you start to feel crazier than you already are. Despite all that is going on we’re confident that wiith creative problem solving, martial arts and some mindfulness everything always seems to fall into place.

Here is a rough list of the must have things we’ve had to schedule into our daily regimen both to maintain our sense of peace & wellbeing, as well as to maintain our sanity.

LEARN

  1. Read, read, Read
  2. Everyday pick up a book or read a short article, learn something new! (I’ve learned about SEO, Marketing, graphic design, programming, spiritual health, resilience, it’s so great to see how all that knowledge overlaps and integrating them all together)
  3. FOCUS

     

  4. Develop laser vision esp. if you’re solo
  5. Focus on 1 thing at a time, each day, in each moment
  6. Chip away your to do list, (it took us 1 year to bring a 1,000 item to do list, down to 100 down to 10- 12 /day)
  7. Break each item into tasks with their sub to do lists (so at any given moment we know exactly where to pick up and start) focus the day on that.
  8. Keep a Goal and To do list tracker/ write a list of goals before bed and waking up
  9. Prioritize your most important tasks
  10. Level up to the next tasks and their sub-tasks when complete!
  11. Track to do list and progress every day, week, and month, use this to track progress to see how far you’ve gotten
  12.  

    SPIRITUAL/EMOTIONAL/MENTAL HEALTH

     

  13. Incorporate meditation into your daily routine
  14. Don’t neglect your spiritual, mental & emotional health
  15. Incorporate mindfulness into everything you do
  16. Incorporate Rest & Relaxation into your schedule
  17. Kill two birds with one stone by incorporating physical fitness into your spiritual regimens
  18. Make Mind-Body workouts part of your daily regimen
  19.  

    EXPLORE & EXPERIMENT

     

  20. Explore & Experiment (It took me 1 year to explore and experiment, finding my voice, my identity, and clarifying my message.)
  21. Don’t be afraid to step back and try something new
  22. Detours are part of the learning experience, we call them side quests. (Just like any side quest you return to the same road giving us more insight and skills. Learn new things that can make your calling stronger than ever, and even allow you to change gears if you need to).
  23. Always keep ‘scope’ in mind, something may seem simple, but when you’re doing everything yourself that simple task can become a nightmare.
  24. Reign in scope, for what you as an individual can do without getting burnt out
  25. Write Strategy plans for everything, research everything
  26. Experiment with your message on different platforms in ways that don’t affect your brand (safe spaces for exploration are great, I like to experiment with my message by talking to people among my family and friends who are not the right audience or fit, to learn what resistance feels like, cater my voice to that audience, while also working on narrowing my message and explaining it clearer and gauging what lack of feedback feels like from good feedback right down to biased feedback!)
  27.  

    AUTHENTICITY

     

  28. Be Authentic (but what does that mean), it means be YOU
  29. (But who are you?) Take time to explore, experiment & find you!
  30. Don’t be afraid to change and grow and share those changes
  31. Don’t just focus on selling yourself to customers ask yourself are these the type of people you want to serve?
  32. Don’t be afraid of rejection for every person that hates you, there is someone out there who will love you find those people
  33. Not every customer and person is right for you, make sure the people you serve are the kind of customers you want to have
  34. Be TRUE to you
  35. You are your first customer, if it doesn’t resonate with you, you’re not doing it right!
  36. Be genuine & heart felt
  37.  

    BE AN ALCHEMIST: TRANSMUTE CHALLENGES & CRITIQUES INTO OPPORTUNITIES

     

  38. Transmute criticism and failures into positive and opportunity to learn, expand, grow and build better
  39. Always get feedback
  40. Don’t focus on ‘lack of resources’ focus on resourcefulness and creativity. Take any problem, lack of money, lack of team, and brainstorm/mind map your way to a solution, examine it, question it, play with it, integrate. Be resourceful
  41. Adapt, and be flexible, bend if somethings not working don’t be afraid to try something new whether you’ve told people about it or not, be open and honest
  42. Express your needs clearly
  43.  

    “CREATIVITY” & PASSION

     

  44. Stop the Excuses
  45. Use determination and passion to find your breakthroughs, be committed. Find it.
  46.  

    HOPE

     

  47. What is does not determine what will be!
  48. Missing deadlines is not the end of the world, EXTEND THEM
  49. Procrastination is a sign of genius but don’t let it rule you! Break the habits, focus (break tasks into smaller problems, always have a clear to do list that tells you what needs to be done next, read inspiring articles that help bring back your passion and get you going again, work in bursts, and do one thing at a time to break through procrastination or at least chip away at it, just bite the bullet and do it now when you’re due date is today!)
  50.  

    TAKE TIME TO RECONNECT, TAKE BREAKS OFTEN

     

  51. If you’ve lost your passion and momentum stop! Take time to breathe, reconnect, find your center.
  52. Meditation and relaxation is great for this
  53. Take breaks frequently and often, do work in bursts! (somehow we’ve managed to get it done)
  54.  

    SCHEDULE

     

  55. Stay organized (utilize schedules, lists, rules, and get physical notebooks with lots of pens)
  56. Schedule time for you and your family
  57. Set a time every day for your family (we have lunch, breakfast, dinner hours, and weekends are a no work zone)
  58. Create Opening & Closing Hours (our hours for social engagement are officially 12AM/9PM – 3PM Monday – Friday. For our ‘public’ work, our behind the scenes work takes place on weekends, recouping, resting)
  59. Always plan 1 week or more in advance (we try to plan one month ahead for our tasks, and then weeks if not days ahead, even if we are close to the due date we always know what we’re supposed to be doing in any given moment)
  60. Hire 1-3 weeks before your deadlines! Most people take a few days to produce work and sometimes the work isn’t satisfying, we learned that lesson the hard way when we hired a Virtual Assistant who showed up late and never did the job!
  61.  

    DELEGATE & OUTSOURCE

     

  62. Your time is a resource, every hour you spend doing something you can outsource is time you aren’t doing something else
  63. Delegate any task that can be outsourced.
  64. Automate what can be automate (outsource to machines)
  65. Utilize automation tools like Buffer starting at $10/month
  66. If you’re opening a shop and can’t afford to hire a coder/and don’t have the time yourself: Bite the bullet and purchase Shopify + Sendowl to save time, even if it’s a temporary solution
  67. Use tools like Articy Draft SE to manage complexity
  68. Use Windows Word to utilize navigation bookmarks/headers (Google drive is great too for organizing documents and teams!)
  69. Before you outsource try to build it, this allows you to gain an intimate understanding of what’s really involved
  70.  

    AFFORDING YOUR TEAM

     

  71. Outsource to independent contractors not employees when you’re broke
  72. Negotiate, barter & bargain! The right person is willing to work with what you are able to give (if that person won’t, then rest assured there is someone out there capable of doing so)
  73. Use Fiverr with caution, lots of low quality and hidden fees, often times it comes with more headaches than not.
  74. See everyone you meet as special and unique with their own gifts and talents
  75. Realize that everyone has something to offer, if one person doesn’t work out, know that somewhere someone else will!
  76. Focus on creating win-wins for people, as they lift you up, lift them up too. We are a team. Let’s not leave the other behind so that we can move forward on our own.
  77. Invest the time to build a team
  78. For every person out there that won’t help you or barter within your budget, there is someone out there that will
  79. Cut off people who believe low pay isn’t worth quality (this is frequently a problem for places like fiverr and upwork, where people agree to work for low prices but then may say they’re not being paid enough to care)
  80.  

    REACHING OUT

     

  81. Seek help, Take Breaks, Step away
  82. The world doesn’t come to you, you have to step outside and go to it. Leaving my inner cave is the hardest, coming down from the mountain is the hardest. Engaging with people is the hardest, I focus on a place of love and do nevertheless.
  83. Be symbiotic. Don’t look to compete, be and emulate the plant that cooperates and gives to the world, in a symbiotic away
  84. Keep your eyes out for mentors (I’ve contacted several potential mentors but often receive no responses or they never get back to me, I use daily interactions and reading as my mentors and learning experiences, but I still have my eyes open)
  85.  

    DEVELOP RESILENCE & THICK SKIN

     

  86. Carefully select your team but don’t be afraid to say it’s not working out!
  87. Develop thick skin
  88. The hardest part is making people care; in this world everyone asks, “What is in it for me” no one genuinely helps just because they care or want to see you succeed. You always have to find ways to make people feel like their time listening to you is worthwhile.
  89.  

    BE COMPASSIONATE & KIND

     

  90. Remember! Don’t think of people as being ‘greedy’ think of people as trying to survive! It’s easier to approach people with compassion, to understand that they need to feed themselves and their families.
  91. Try not to let your anger and stress cause you to lash out, try to look at people with compassionately even as you decide not to engage with them!
  92. Be compassionate towards yourself, most depression results from setting high expectations. It’s a symptom telling you something is off and that you need something, set that time aside to make your mission getting it.
  93. Don’t be a dictator be a Team
  94. Be strong, firm, but KIND
  95. Forgive yourself when you have a bad day or fall off the horse (your best is always changing, some days are more stressful than others, somedays are better, extend a hand of compassion and forgiveness when the best you can do today is not the best you did yesterday)
  96. Take responsibility, admit mistakes, never blame, focus only on you but be objective about it!
  97. Be objective BUT KIND!
  98.  

    FACE THE ACT OF GIVING & RECEIVING REJECTION WITH GRACE

  99. Don’t attack or insult people as a person, always direct your frustrations onto the situation or action (more often than not it’s not PEOPLE who are bad, but the environment itself, what can you DO to bring out their best)
  100. Redirect and focus on what you do want to see, not what you don’t
  101. Let people go with kindness and compassion, just because they didn’t work for you or you didn’t work for them, doesn’t mean you won’t work better for someone else and vice versa
  102. Be Humble!
  103.  

    FUN

     

  104. Most Importantly MAKE Learning & Engaging FUN!
  105. Incorporate fun into everything you do!
  106. If you’re not having fun you’re doing it WRONG!
  107.  

In the beginning when I first started this balancing my life was hard. I had a newborn baby and lived on $700/month. Today I have a toddler and still live off of $700/month, and that’s before bills are paid. After bills are paid I’m scraping sometimes even getting behind on rent leaving people I.O.Us all for a dream, that we can save the world and have fun doing it too.

It was a scary prospect for me to pick up my lifelong dream, to answer the call and try to make a living and save the world while doing so. I was going through a lot of losses at the time, a deep spiritual journey, and juggling parenthood. At first I buried myself into work, learning as I went along, but realized I was missing out on my child’s growth. It seemed doing one thing at a time was futile. But slowly but surely over the course of a year my 1,000+ page to do list slowly became 500, became 100, became 10. This starting week my to do list is down to 5 focused lists, spaced out throughout the weeks.

The biggest change in my life was making the decision that my hours for social engagement and ‘active’ work are 9AM – 3PM. I might get in early at 3AM or 7AM, and I might work a little bit overtime, but I’m not required to. I set aside breakfast, lunch and dinner, that’s time for me and my family, and I make my working hours really count. Sometimes if I see an opportunity to get work out of the way I do it.

When my child is sleeping I work on a single thing from my to do list. I don’t respond to emails until I get it done. Sometimes I take a break, walk around. If the hour I dedicate to it passes and I run out of time. I move onto the next thing and continue this project later.

My biggest thing these days is to relax, the way I see it is, whatever happens is going to happen anyway, if I’m going to die, I can be sad about it, happy about it or neutral about it. In that same way if I need to write an essay, I relax into it. I choose the perspective I want to have and then I go into that situation from that perspective. I can worry that we won’t make any sales, or nothing will happen, and we’ll fail. Or I can simply relax, keep calm and carry on, like a bird singing a song irregardless of who is listening or not. Trusting that I have it within myself to face challenges, solve problems, find solutions and create better ways. Looking at a problem from different angles and focusing on them like tasks to a do list, developing unique strategies for each one.

To learn more:

Read The Press Release for One Million Here: http://bit.ly/2e66M4A
Read About Our One Million Heroes & Pay It Forward Campaign here: http://bit.ly/2fAfr22

Visit and get your Nomination Badges now: http://onemillionheroes.zenratstudios.org

Check out our shop at: http://shop.zenratstudios.org

Read Zenratstudios Press Release for hints and clues to our puzzles: http://bit.ly/2dsAjTsh

Like & Follow us on Facebook To receive daily hints for our ARG: http://facebook.com/zenratstudios

Follow us On Twitter: http://twitter.com/zenratstudios

And if you have any questions email us at: savingtheworld@zenratstudios.org , send us a tweet or FB message.